Chief Executive, ABTA
Recent UK Government figures found that UK residents took almost 6.6 million overseas business trips, a figure that has remained fairly consistent in recent years.
Improvements in technology have provided alternative communication options for many companies, for example, video conferencing. However, face to face meetings are still essential.
Managers who send their staff overseas on business trips will have concerns regarding their duty of care towards their employees.
Research by ABTA among buyers of business travel, found terrorism and security threats, as well as harassment or violence against staff, were among the top concerns for managers.
The research also highlighted that while the percentage of staff reporting problems in these areas were low, safety and security must be taken very seriously.
Using a reputable Travel Management Company (TMC) is one way for managers to address their concerns over the safety and security. TMCs should be able to provide reassurance that their suppliers are reputable and trustworthy.
Political turbulence must be closely monitored for business travellers
We live in a volatile world with certain destinations affected by political instability, terrorist threats and war. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), through its network of embassies, consulates and other diplomatic sources, monitors potential safety threats to British nationals throughout the world.
If the FCO views that the threat level has increased and is unacceptably high, it may advise against travel to a destination. At this point, British nationals in the relevant destination should leave at the earliest opportunity.
Business travellers, unlike leisure visitors, may have to conduct business in countries with high levels of risk. Therefore, it is very important that changes to FCO advice are closely monitored.
TMCs are ideally placed to monitor changes, contact their customers to inform them of the change and arrange repatriation as soon as is possible.
It is very important that this monitoring takes place around the clock; failure to act could have extremely serious consequences.
TMCs advise business travellers of local customs
FCO advice is also an invaluable source of information on local laws and customs, which can vary drastically from the United Kingdom.
TMCs should be fully aware of any differences and inform their customers accordingly. Not only could this prevent a client breaking the law, but also avoid committing a serious social faux pas and even help seal a deal.
Is my travel supplier reputable? TMCs can offer reassurance
Just as with the wider public, younger business travellers are often keen on using accommodation or transport services provided by peer to peer businesses and other ‘disruptors’.
The way these newer business model operate may not always meet the requirements of organisations’ staff welfare policies.
TMCs can offer guidance on this and offer more suitable, convenient alternatives in line with the requirements of their corporate clients.
 ONS 2018 Travel Trends Report